I cleaned the BBQ on the weekend.

I cleaned the BBQ on the weekend.


And, boy, did it need a clean. Not used since last Summer, out in all weather all Winter, smelly and looking rather sad and neglected – a bit like being a large animal vet, I imagine.


Not only is it dirty and neglected it’s also very, very old. (Do Australian men eventually end up looking like their barbies?) Every year I get told “Why don’t you get rid of it. Get yourself a new one!” Two of the gas knobs have fallen off; the spark clicker thing only works occasionally, one of the legs has rotted off so it’s propped up by a couple of roof tiles and it’s covered in rust and years of accumulated meat fat, cooking oil and organic matter that may or may not belong in a B-B-Q.


But there is something about it. For one, it works. Two, it has a grill AND a hotplate of solid iron – not these flimsy stainless steel grills that just burn everything; and three (bit hard to admit, this one) I’ve kinda grown to like it.

We’ve been through a lot together.


So I set to, pulling it apart, degreasing the hot-plate and grill, wire brushing the burners, scraping the accumulated gunge from the drip-tray, extracted dead wildlife and made it (not quite) SHINE. I worked happily and diligently, oblivious to any unsolicited helpful tips and suggestions. I was a Man on a MISSION!


Why do I mention this? Well, while scraping and cleaning away I got to thinking the same question. What motivated me to come out here and start cleaning this hideous mess in the first place?


Do I do the laundry unbidden, empty the dishwasher, wash the car? No Way! I do my share when asked but I’m not MOTIVATED to go and do these things except by something very low on Maslow’s hierarchy.


Cleaning my B-B-Q had become an exercise in Self – Actualization!


So “What”, my enquiring mind asked, “was it that lead me here.”


A useful exercise when looking for motivation to change behaviour is to regularly, daily or weekly, reflect upon episodes of ‘Flow’ – self actualized behavior. Unfortunately they can be few and far between in the day to day hum-drum of life – but they are there if you look for them. Here was one for me.


1. First thing I suppose was that I was not told, or ordered to ‘Clean the Bar-B-Q’ by a higher authority. It was MY idea – a choice, and a choice among many non-urgent competing things. So I suppose what created the RIGHT CONDITIONS for that choice were that I had TIME and I was not in OVERWHELM. How often does that happen in a busy veterinary practice?


2. I suppose also that it is MY barbie – MY responsibility – MY domain. This is not some macho Aussie thing. It’s just that when it comes to bar-b-ques I’m good at it. It’s something I get APPRECIATION for, FEEDBACK and (dare I say it?) RESPECT for. I like that.


3. Third was that, simply enough, the sun was shining and it was a balmy 18’C – the natural association with BBQ activity. The TIMING was right. Doing it any sooner was not appropriate; later risks missing the chance.


4. I have to admit to a not so subliminal trigger here in that Vicky had said in passing “Lovely day – maybe we’ll have a bar-b-q later”. That was it. Idea implanted. No orders, committees, meetings or discussion. Just the subtle implantation of “A Good Idea” aligned with a Guiding Principle (Family gathering at meal times).(aren’t women clever?)


5. Once the idea was implanted, of course my memory of past social events and my imaginings of a future event kicked in and started planning. This is the brain’s natural unforced ability to join up a process from where you are now to an Imagined Future. As Stephen Covey says “Start with the end in mind” Your brain will do the rest (under the right conditions)


6. Immediate DISSONANCE – no way can I cook on that b-b-q in that state. The imagined state did not reflect my current reality…. Oops…..clean the BBQ. Anxiety and procrastination are usually the result of this self-same dissonance. It’s a warning that we haven’t started at the beginning. Our very clever brains also tend to jump into the middle of the PROCESS but the sense of “missing something” is there to protect us – listen to it!


7. Next problem. TIME SCALE. The rugby was on at 3.00 and we wanted to feed the assembled troops – teenagers, boyfriends, mates and one or two invited guests – 13 in all I think! So a manageable SENSE OF URGENCY prevailed.


8. As I cleaned and scraped my industrious activity was noticed by others (Are we having a bar-b-q? Great!) which started to get ALIGNMENT of resources (beer and food) and timetables (when do we need to be back?) and cooperative attitudes (can I invite…?).


The result: 48 sausages, 32 Beef burgers, various dismembered chickens, a ton of salad and 24 bread rolls. More important was watching the teenagers playing football in the garden, catching up with my Godson and a deep appreciation of the good things in life.


Who needs Motivation….?



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